Published Monday, 17 January 2022
All states of being are determined by the heart.
It is the heart that leads the way.
Just as the wheel of the oxcart follows
the hoofprint of the animal that draws it,
so suffering will surely follow
when we speak or act impulsively
from an impure heart.
It is obvious when we look around that currently many people are caught up in a maelstrom of conflicting views and opinions. A lot of these people are likely suffering from feelings of hopelessness. This short teaching by the Buddha, which forms the first verse in the Dhammapada, is not a naive feel-good message. Rather it is a practical pointing to where we need to be focussing attention if we are sincere in wanting to understand this state of chaos. To some, the image of an oxcart could appear archaic, but the truth of the message is still thoroughly relevant. There are causes for the way things are: acting and speaking from an impure heart will lead to suffering. We might have profoundly clever ideas in our heads, and be able to eloquently offer advice to others, but are we able to free our hearts from the pollution of self-centredness? One place to begin is increasing the effort to be honest.